Review of the Toshiba USB Hard Disk with 500 GB (HDDR500E03X)

Small, lightweight, and a lot of storage space. This is how one could describe the new external 2.5" hard disk from Toshiba. 465GB of usable space and a USB 2.0 port are supposed to convince for less than 120 Euros. You can read how the HDD comes off in the following review.

Toshiba Portable External Hard Drive 500GB
Toshiba Portable External Hard Drive 500GB

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The Toshiba HDDR500E03X is an external 2.5" hard disk in the modern high-gloss design. Five bicolored stripes (in white and grey on out model) optically loosen up the surface somewhat and make the HDD look modern. A disadvantage of the surface, which is coated with piano lacquer, is its susceptibility to fingerprints. This finish is not optimal, especially for a mobile device, since it is covered with finger prints and cords immediately.

Lovely design
Lovely design
But susceptible to finger prints
But susceptible to finger prints

Toshiba integrated a blue LED in the lower left corner of the case for indicating the operating status, it glows while switched on and flashes during read/write-access in its rhythm.
Two large rubber stripes adorn the bottom side and make it possible to keep it without gliding on practically every surface.
The plastic case's stability kann be described as satisfactory. The case creaks a little when pressure is applied to the sides, but it does leave the impression of being stable and should not make any problems during mobile usage.
Thanks to the used plastic case, the external USB hard disk remains pleasantly lightweight and portable (weighs 151g).
The case itself can not be opened without damaging it, according to Toshiba (and our own attempts). Therefore, we have to stick with Toshiba as far as the specifications of the used components are concerned.

The blue Led indicates the operating status
The blue Led indicates the operating status
The large rubber feet leave a durable impression
The large rubber feet leave a durable impression


Toshiba's small box offers only a USB 2.0 port. Other ports, such as FireWire or eSata, are nowhere to be found, neither is a connection for power supply.
The HDDR500E03X includes a Toshiba MK5055GSX 2.5" hard disk, which offers 500GB of storage space. It is formatted with a factory setting of FAT32 and has 465.8GB of usable storage space. Thanks to FAT32, the disk can be used immediately with all current operating systems. The maximum size for single files is 4GB (actually a byte less than 4GB), modern file systems can use the space somewhat more efficiently, and they can read or write files.
Toshiba ships the storage box in a handsome plastic packaging, a USB 2.0 cable and a short installation manual in several languages are included.

Only one USB port adorns the case
Only one USB port adorns the case
One finds a manual, a USB cable, and the HDD within the packaging
One finds a manual, a USB cable, and the HDD within the packaging


Specifications of the used Toshiba HDD
Specifications of the used Toshiba HDD

The used Toshiba HDDR500E03X is a 2.5" notebook hard disk with 5400rpm and 8MB Cache. The transfer rate reached a constant 33.3 MB/s when tested, thus the USB 2.0 Bus is definitely putting a limit to it. Theoretically about 480 MBit/s (60 MB/s) are possible over USB 2.0, but similarly high values seldomly remain in practice. The Toshiba hard disk respectively the controller from Initio make the most of the USB 2.0 interface, which is also visible through the measured burst rate of 27.8 MB/s.
The access time of 18.7ms and 7.9% CPU load are also alright for an external hard disk over USB 2.0.

HDTune measurement results
HDTune measurement results

Measurement Results

  • constant transfer rate of 33.3 MB/s
  • 18.7 ms access time
  • 27.8 MB/s burst speed
  • 7.8 % CPU load

[measured with An P5B with Core 2 Duo E6600 Desktop, Win XP SP3]

Power Supply

Like most external 2.5" hard disks, the Toshiba HDDR500E03X is also supplied with power via the USB port, a dedicated port for a power supply unit is not provided. However, the hard disk drained up to 740mA (maximum) from the USB port, and USB 2.0 is only specified for up to 500mA. This means that not all notebooks might be able to supply the necessary 740mA, there might be problems during usage. The available y-cables cannot help either, according to the specifications, since the hard disk cannot register at the second port.

The power consumption (important for the reduction of battery life) was at a median of 1.3 watt (while idle) and 2.3 watt (when used).

  • 260 mA while idle (1.3W)
  • 460 mA when used (2.3W) (540 mA maximum)
  • 580 mA on connecting
  • 740 mA maximum according to Multimeter (3.7 W)
  • 500 mA max. specified for USB 2.0 (2.5W)


The Toshiba HDD's surface remained chilly during the test.
The Toshiba HDD's surface remained chilly during the test.

Due to the vent-free way of construction of the plastic case, only the running noises of the used Toshiba hard disk occur during operation. This is expressed through the quiet whirr of the hard disk during operation, and a barely perceivable rattling during read or write access. These noises are accompanied by minimally perceptible vibrations.

The HDD's surface temperatures remain absolutely uncritical even after longer usage and do not exceed the skin temperature of 32 °C, meaning that it always felt chilly during the test.





For currently 90-125 Euros (source:, the buyer gets a nifty external hard disk with sufficient storage space. The compability to Windows XP, Vista, 7, MacOS X, and Linux is assured thanks to the FAT32 format. The performance is, as expected, limited by the USB port. Unfortunately, a dedicated power connection is missing, which could absorb the current peaks above the USB specifications. Temperatures and running noise do not give any cause for complaints, so the small box can absolutely be recommended.

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review of the Toshiba Portable External USB Hard Drive 500GB
Klaus Hinum, 2009-05-22 (Update: 2012-05-26)